In the church we talk about stewardship as a model for Christian life. In our community, much like our lives, we have operating, capital and legacy needs. We give our resources of time, talent and treasure to keep our worship, mission and ministry programs going. From time to time we need to spruce the place up or do some additions as we grow so we reach into the other pocket and renew or add to our physical space. Then at the twilight stages of life we give thought to our legacy – what I have started to call Ultimate Stewardship.
Legacy gifts are the ultimate form of stewardship of our resources. Many people leave a portion of their estate through a bequest in their will. Typically it will be a percentage, a specific amount or the residue of their estate. Its use is often general in nature but sometimes people want to specify what their legacy gift will support. For example it might be for worship, outreach, youth ministry, or clergy education. These legacy gifts in the bequest form follow after the death of the donor and qualify for a receipt for tax purposes in the final disposition of their estate.
Interestingly, there are many ultimate stewardship options to consider during your lifetime. If you have a particular passion or concern about an issue or situation, there are several ways to contribute during your lifetime. For example there has been a major increase in the use of gifts of publicly traded appreciated securities to the church. That is because the tax treatment of this gift means that capital gains are waived yet there is a tax receipt for the entire value of the gift.
Another approach is to consider a Charitable Gift Annuity. In this case, the donation of money to the church results in a gift (usually about 30% of the total) and the donor receives a life-time annuity payment which is purchased with the balance of the money (70%). Depending on the age of the donor, this increased income can often be tax free.
Finally, the leverage of life insurance is attractive to many donors. For the cost of premium payments (which qualifies for a tax receipt), the donor can give three to five times the cost of insurance as a gift to support their parish, diocese or the national church.
Ultimate Stewardship is often the last generous thing a donor does and is a legacy of your Christian life. For more information or to receive assistance in making an ultimate stewardship gift, contact your parish clergy, the diocesan planned giving officer or the national planned giving officer.